Debugging Diversity In Tech

This post is in response to the ripple effect following Google’s diversity disclosure and The Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s Color of Change movement to diversify Silicon Valley, which at the time of this post is calling for Twitter to release diversity numbers. While Google leads the way in addressing the problem (and has pledged financial support to inclusion initiatives), many are disappointed by the framing of the excuses for a lack of diversity — namely pointing to a limited talent pool among underrepresented groups.

My issue with the “blame shifting” is that pointing to a lack of CS majors among underrepresented populations only underscores the larger problem of poverty, lack of access, and disparity in admissions / attacks on Affirmative Action. While I’m the first to lament that the latter is an appeasement — and divisive at that — to dismantle it without creating equitable alternatives and addressing disparity in K-12 is unwise.

Furthermore, a degree is not required for these organizations to recruit people of color or women. Accepting certifications, looking at actual portfolios (via GitHub, Behance, or other relevant repositories, for example) rather than degrees, and providing hands-on and temp-to-hire or train-to-hire programs would be a better response than complaining about why the problem exists.

To this end, I commend initiatives like #YesWeCode, #Code2040, #BlackGirlsCode, #HackTheHood, #LatinasCode, #WomenWhoCode, and incubators like BuildUpVC and NewMe et al that introduce and nurture tech opportunities among underrepresented communities. We must urge mainstream organizations, incubators, and hack-a-thons to leverage these targeted organizations to recruit, engage and [hello?!] provide scholarships to emerging talent that may otherwise not have access or awareness of these opportunities — let alone afford to participate.

This is also a great time to train career-shifting adults of all ethnic groups who need to be prepared to support themselves in a tech economy. They should not be left out of the equation and discussion on #inclusion. Let’s #DebugDiversity with #solution-oriented #ThinkTank in response to tech-diversity disclosures. Suggestions? Solutions? Contributions? Leave your comments and links below. #TechDiversity #FemTech #SolutionOriented #ProblemSolvers #DebugDiversity #DebugInclusion #ThinkTank

“Twitter: Disclose your diversity numbers”

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Originally published at on July 18, 2014.

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